If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? This week Elvind came up with the questions and you can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at Dab of Darkness.
This week we read through to the end of Chapter 39.
1. So Thom is back! ...again! What do you think happened in Cairhien since we were there last?
I am very pleased to see Thom, because he is such great fun, although he seems to be going through a very rough patch just now. I am not really surprised about that as he seemed to be genuinely in love with Dena and he blames himself for her murder. It is not clear if he actually killed the King in Cairhien in retribution, but I certainly believe that he is capable of such an act, especially in a moment of such high emotion. However, it would seem that he is a suspect in the murder, so he will need to steer clear of the city in the future.
I hope that Mat can persuade him to stay away from alcohol from now on, but even drunk he will be great back-up for the lad.
2. Perrin and the girls bring us some more info on the Aiel, turning them towards Tear in the process. What role do you think this elusive people will play?
They always remind me so very much of the Fremen in Frank Herbert’s Dune that I cannot shake the feeling that they are the key to Rand’s future. They certainly seem to be deeply involved in the prophecies surrounding his birth, and also his future actions, so I suspect that we will see much more of them. I love the hints we have had of their society so far, which seems to allow women to play an equal role to men. I have to assume that their Wise Ones are effectively Aes Sedai, and was it my imagination or did Aviendha try to reassure Egwene of her safety after she took hold of saidar? This suggests that Aviendha is a channeler herself and adept enough o see the glow around other women.
Also: did anyone else pick up on Elayne’s thought that Rand reminds her of Tigraine, the daughter-heir before Morgase? This seems odd if his mother is supposed to be a Maiden of the Spear and, therefore, an Aiel, but I doubt that it was thrown in as a red herring.
3. Our newest character is Zarine Bashere, or Faile, or whatever. She fulfills half of Min's viewing. What do you make of this one?
I like her attitude: she is so blunt, direct and focused. I have to love Perrin a little more for not even suspecting that she might just be staring at his manly hotness: he is such a decent bloke and will make a terrific husband! :)
I am looking forward to hearing her back-story. I can only assume that she is mortally embarrassed by her name, which is why she tries to avoid using it. It seems likely that she was the only girl in a large family of boys, because she is very much a tomboy. I can see her frustrating Perrin to utter madness before he finally realizes that they are made for each other, though I might be getting a little ahead of myself there.
4. We get a rare bit of insight into the workings of the enemy when Perrin overhears a conversation between Lanfear and Ba'alzamon. Does it strike anyone that they could be more effective if they worked together a bit more? What do you think of the nature of Ba'alzaman?
Although I agree that the Forsaken would be so much more powerful if they worked in concert, I am sure that they cannot do that because it requires trust and a willingness to expose one’s weaknesses to others. Part of their psychology is that they are sociopathic and so do not consider anyone else in their own plans. I am pretty sure that, deep down, each one of them actually wants to replace the Dark One and become supreme, and solo, ruler of the world.
I am beginning to wonder how much of Ba’alzaman’s persona is bluff. We have seen him fight Rand twice now and been defeated both times: this seems highly improbable if he is as powerful as he suggests because he has thousands of years of training and practice whereas Rand is a hopeless amateur, especially in their first encounter.
5. For a book named after him, Rand PoVs seem conspicuously rare. This time we see him slay a dozen people unprovoked. Madness setting in, or justified?
I quite like the choice to show us more than just Rand’s story, because it adds so much to the feeling of depth and history of this world. It also shows that his successes are not his alone, but are built upon the actions of many other people. This complexity is much more satisfying to me as a reader.
I was rather startled by that scene, because there did not seem to be any indication that they had any intention of harming him. This maked it very difficult to judge his mindset, but the way he arranged the dead bodies was certainly verging into the realm of bat-shit crazy, in my opinion: that was seriously creepy and very worrying.
I really wish that he had someone with him to act as a grounding influence and moral compass. It also seems like he is having the same problem as Perrin in trying to avoid sleep and having dreams that leave him very tired: being so tired with no hope of relief will not improve his paranoia.
6. There seems to be a connection between Egwene's T'A'R and Perrin's wolf dream. Do you think he is a dreamer, too? Can Egwene speak to wolves? Does Rand have anything there to do? Speculation is welcome.
It seems that Tel’aran’rhiod and the Wolf Dream are the same place. We have seen Egwene and Perrin encounter each other twice now in the same world, so I cannot see how they could be separate places. However, this does not mean that Egwene will automatically be able to mind-speak to wolves, just that there is more than one way to access the world. There is certainly no hint that the Forsaken that we have seen there also have the link to wolves: the wolves themselves would be very aware of such a link to their mortal enemies.
Rand also seems to be travelling to the same world, and both Egwene and Perrin have encountered him. Of course, all three of the lads were brought into the Dream World repeatedly by Ba’alzaman in the past, so they might find it easier to find a way in than other people, although I seem to remember that anyone can access it unconsciously.
I cannot imagine the stress of knowing that your dreams are not a safe place, and that you would be killed or injured whilst you were asleep.
Final note: I miss Bela! :(